Program Details

The Dardennes Brothers:  Redefining Narrative Realism in the 21st Century 

Shelly Isaacs
Video Catch-up

Course Description

Writer-director team Jean Pierre and Luc Dardennes among the most honored in world cinema. Having created a unique body of work, combining an intense naturalism with challenging and highly involving narratives, their exploration of working-class life and young people on the fragile edges of society have been highly acclaimed and awarded by critics and audiences throughout the world. Through four of their features, all with simple titles, we will observe and discuss how they cinematically weave together philosophical, spiritual, and psychological elements to tell their remarkable stories.


  1. "La Promesses": A father uses his son to traffic and exploit undocumented immigrants. When one of the immigrants is killed, the son is guilt-ridden and wants to care for the dead man's family against his father's orders.
  2. "The Son": A carpentry teacher at a rehab center for young men refuses to take a new teen as a student, and his reasons lead him to stalk the young man through the city.
  3. "Enfant": A young couple living off her benefit and the thefts committed by his juvenile gang have a new source of found money when he sells their newborn son.
  4. "The Kid with a Bike": At 11, a young boy with no mother is abandoned by his father to a foster institution. When a local hairdresser offers to take him on weekends, his ambivalent behavior leads him down a dark path.

About the Instructor

  • Shelly Isaacs, M.A. is founder and host for Café Cinematheque International, a foreign language film program presented in venues throughout South Florida. As a creative director/writer/producer and director in advertising, Isaacs specialized in promoting movies & entertainment. He earned a master's degree in media ecology studies from New York University, and taught graduate-level courses in cultural studies. In 2009 he launched Cinematheque at Sea, a film program available on luxury cruises throughout the world.